Haney Farmers Market re-opens on Saturday, July 18, but with some changes from past to adhere to the COVID-related social distancing and safety guidelines. (The News files)

Farmers market returns to downtown Maple Ridge

Next Saturday, July 18 people can shop at the newly reconfigured market in Memorial Peace Park

Haney’s Farmers Market will be back later this month, but with a few significant changes.

The Saturday morning market was set to re-open for the season on the first weekend in May, but due to COVID and the requirements necessary to social distance and meet other safety guidelines, that opening was pushed back.

Now, with a series of new efforts and rules in place – including fewer vendors spaced out further, no live entertainment, and no food trucks on site – organizers are ready to give it a go, said Karen Curtis, the manager of Port Coquitlam’s farmers market.

One clear distinction between the past farmers markets in Memorial Peace Park and the new ones starting on Saturday, July 18, is that the social aspects have been stripped out, Curtis explained.

“We are a grocery store, we are not an event,” she said. “It’s going to be get in, get out, go home. It’s not a social outing.”

The market will feature 18 vendors, who will be selling their food from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the park.

Vendor tents will be spaced out much more than in past, meaning there will be fewer participant, Curtis said. And there will be spots laid out on the ground to encourage adequate social distancing.

RELATED: Fraser North Farmers Market moves to online model for summer season amid COVID-19

Haney Farmers Market is part of the Fraser North Farmers Market Society, which also runs a market on Thursdays in Port Coquitlam. Their first event is slated for July 16.

“We are all so looking forward to getting back,” said Curtis. “We are thrilled.”

While the markets, deemed essential services, could have opened earlier, there was a lot of work that had to be done behind the scenes to make sure the weekly markets adhered to all the safety requirements and that the vendors needs were also going to be met in a safe manner, Curtis said.

During that time, the society did initiate an online food hub to still keep shoppers connected with their local farmers and producers. Even with the return of the farmers markets, the food hub will continue – at least for the foreseeable future, Curtis said.

“It’s been very successful,” she said, noting that 60 to 70 people a week were accessing the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows hub.

It allows people to order from vendors online between noon on Wednesdays and noon on Fridays, then pickup their orders at Golden Meadows Honey Farm (19950 Old Dewdney Trunk Rd) on the following Saturday, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Items available through the hub include groceries, baked goods, eggs and proteins, fresh produce, beer and wines, breads, soups, and plants for the garden.

“We’ll keep doing what we can to get that local food out to everybody,” Curtis said, anxious for live markets to resume next week.

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